SINCE the start of the pandemic, the wearing of face masks has become not only an effective way to stay healthy but also a crucial step in keeping the coronavirus contained. However, this preventive measure seems to bring about a problem. Mask acne (or “maskne” as netizens call it) has become such a prevalent concern that SunStar LIVE! decided to consult Dr. Malinda Vasquez of DMV Dermatology Clinic, Best of Cebu 2019’s Best Skin and Facial Care winner, to give us the lowdown on this skin problem.
Here’s all you need to know about maskne.
SunStar LIVE! (SSL): What is maskne?
Dr. Malinda Vasquez (DMV): Coined on social media as “maskne,” mask acne is a breakout of pimples that appears after wearing a mask, thus, it has become quite common nowadays. Lately, I’ve had several patients with concerns of acne flare-ups around the perioral area, where the mask comes in contact with the skin. The medical term for maskne is ‘acne mechanica,’ the result of mechanical friction of a material against the skin.
SSL: What causes it?
DMV: Dermatologists believe that prolonged use of masks, combined with humidity, sweat, excessive oil production and stress from this pandemic, causes an increased moisture-rich environment for bacteria and organisms to thrive in the skin, producing pimples.
SSL: Are there any indicators that differentiate maskne from regular acne?
DMV: Maskne is localized around the mouth, extending to the chin and jawline, where the mask comes in contact with the skin.
SSL: Who are more prone to having maskne?
DMV: I have noticed that this problem is common among health care workers, frontliners, and those who wear masks for prolonged periods of time. Pressure and friction from the mask and respirators stimulate the pores and oil glands, resulting in acne flare-ups.
SSL: Is there a particular type of mask that’s more likely to cause acne?
DMV: As what I have observed, any kind of mask can cause acne breakouts.
SSL: How can we prevent maskne?
DMV: Reusable masks should be washed and dried after every use. If you exercise or sweat during the day with a mask on, put on a new one right away because a sweaty mask can breed microbes and cause acne. Wearing make-up, moisturizer or sunscreen can also contaminate the mask. Leaving and storing reusable masks without cleaning them can cause microbes to grow in the fabric. It’s very important to throw away dirty disposable masks and to wash with soap reusable masks or respirators.
SSL: If one already has maskne, how should he treat it?
DMV: It’s best to have a consultation with his dermatologist online or in the clinic, so they can prescribe him with the proper medication and treatment for maskne.
SSL: If one can’t see a dermatologist right away, what products can he try to help alleviate the problem?
DMV: If a person can’t consult with his dermatologist yet, use hypoallergenic skin care products. Don’t use anything harsh or oily. Wash your face twice a day, morning and night, with a gentle skin cleanser. Apply a light moisturizer and sunscreen that are oil-free and fragrance-free. Wait 15-30 minutes before wearing the mask.